Regardless of what you hear in the news, there is a significant amount of conflicting scientific evidence on the causes and effects of global warming. While much of the information seen and shared on social media platforms suggests that global warming is primarily a human-caused phenomenon with catastrophic effects for the planet, this is not the only possibility.
In fact, empirical data about the causes and effects of global warming is much more complicated and nuanced than is often deduced from news headlines. Firstly, it is accepted by the majority of climate scientists that global warming and climate change are indeed real phenomena. That said, it is difficult to determine to what extent human-released carbon emissions play a role.
Naturally-occurring phenomena and events such as solar activity, aerosol levels and ocean circulation are all known to affect the Earth’s climate and, as such, might naturally lead to global warming. For example, volcanic eruptions can result in massive carbon dioxide ejections, thus temporarily contributing to global temperature rise. Therefore, it is possible that natural climate processes are partly or entirely responsible for the global warming trend.
Likewise, the long-term effects of global warming are difficult to quantify, depending heavily upon various factors such as the geographic location, habitat and infrastructure affected. While the polar ice caps and coastal regions are undeniably more vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, the effects in the world’s temperate and tropical regions are less certain.
On this note, it is important to consider how global warming can also be beneficial in some cases. For example, a slight atmospheric warming can trigger longer growing seasons, allowing for increased food production in some areas. In some countries, such as Finland, milder winters associated with global warming can save billions in lost wages due to cold-related health problems and accidents.
In the end, there are strong opinions on both sides of the debate regarding global warming and climate change, and there is still much research to be done, particularly in regards to the actual causes and effects. Climate-related research, although often slow and expensive, is vital for elucidating the state of our planet and making informed decisions about the future of our environment.